Helen Clark: “Making the UN’s operational activity work for accelerated development: Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review”

Jan 31, 2012

Remarks for UNDP Administrator and UNDG Chair, Helen Clark on the occasion of the Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-Women, and WFP

“Making the UN’s operational activity work for accelerated development: Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review”

New York, NLB Conference Room
Tuesday, 31 January 10am


I am pleased to join you, together with my colleagues from UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, UNOPS, and UN Women to discuss the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review.

As executive heads of UN funds and programmes, we are committed to working with member states to ensure that the UN development system operates effectively and efficiently to deliver on our mandate – to support countries to achieve the development results which improve peoples’ lives.

In keeping with the resounding call of member states at the 2010 MDG Summit, our efforts are currently prioritizing support to countries to accelerate progress on the MDGs, and achieve the transformation in development status they seek. Today we discuss how this year’s QCPR can help improve the UN’s ability to give effective support to these efforts up to 2015 and beyond.

We acknowledge that this is not an easy time for development. The global recession, lingering financial volatility, and devastating natural disasters have exacerbated inequalities, and left the world’s poor more vulnerable to development setbacks.

In helping to shape expectations for the UN’s contributions to development over the four years, the QCPR must take these realities into account, along with other challenges developing countries will increasingly face, not least from climate change and exposure to an uncertain global economy.

The QCPR should also reflect our shared and steadfast commitment to development as an essential part of any sustainable solution to global challenges.

This year’s QCPR can help ensure that the UN development system is able to provide high quality advice and services, maximize its development impact, and demonstrate value for money.

It can support the UN development system to make full use of its comparative advantages – including its convening power; its wide range of expertise; the breadth of its country presence; and its ability to translate global norms into national development results. It can lay the ground for a more agile UN, capable of tapping new and emerging opportunities, including from new technologies, newly engaged development actors, diverse sources of development finance, and expanding South-South co-operation.

More specifically, the QCPR can help strengthen our work by facilitating greater coherence among development actors within the UN system and beyond.

To do this, it will need to build on successes and lessons learned in working jointly to date. Joint programming has become a more common feature of UN country-level activities, enabling national counterparts to draw on the full range of services the UN has to offer, and facilitating national co-ordination.

Since 2007, the Delivering as One approach has also become an important addition to the UN’s tool kit. In addition to the eight pilots, a growing number of countries has voluntarily adopted the approach. The initiative has helped streamline and align country-level operations and reporting. The Montevideo Intergovernmental Conference on Delivering as One in November affirmed and supported the approach.

It should also be noted that the Secretary General has prioritised support for a second generation of Delivering as One in his Five Year Action Agenda, calling for a focus on managing and monitoring for results, and ensuring increased accountability and improved outcomes.

Indeed, alongside all efforts to improve UN co-ordination, it is critical to be able to demonstrate the results of our work. The UN Development Group and the High Level Committee on Management recognized this when they commissioned a study last year to establish a basis for UN agencies to standardize and improve reporting.

UNDP has introduced new outcome indicators, which are now reflected in the annual reporting of its country offices. These indicators and reports will be used to underpin the analysis and monitoring of UNDP’s country-level work, streamline internal data collection, and strengthen results reporting. In November, UNDP convened a workshop on result chains to support the design of its next development results framework.

The MDG Acceleration Framework also aims to get results and improve coherence. Endorsed by the UN Development Group, the Framework brings governments and development partners together to identify the bottlenecks to MDG progress, and devise ways to overcome them.

By applying the Framework, the UN development system is helping bring the fragmented resources and energy of governments and development partners together around concrete plans to step up MDG progress. These action plans build on existing national strategies and plans.

In Ghana, for example, the Acceleration Framework was used to distill the essence of 25 different policy papers into a concise set of prioritized actions to improve maternal health.

In Colombia, the private sector and local governments are partnering to implement regional MDG acceleration plans, aimed at reducing poverty and gender inequality in the poorest and most disadvantaged communities.

The QCPR can reflect what we have already learned from joined up efforts, including from Delivering as One and the MDG Acceleration Framework.

Member States can also take into account the outcome of Rio+20, to ensure that the UN development system works with governments to establish national sustainable development objectives, including as input to the UNDAF process, and works to strengthen national capacities to deliver sustainable development.

The QCPR can affirm the importance of:

national leadership to define priorities and form new partnerships;

the support of the UN system to advance those priorities; and

the role of the Resident Co-ordinator in leading joined-up UN system efforts in support of national priorities.


While appreciating the need to use funding effectively, the QCPR should also acknowledge that sufficient and predictable resources are essential to support a UN operational presence which is strategic, coherent, and results-driven.

I look forward to hearing your perspectives during this discussion, and to working with colleagues and Board members to make the most of the opportunity which this year’s QCPR represents, to improve the UN’s ability to deliver meaningful and sustained development results. 



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